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Cricket: A look at how Australians are doing in the County Championship

The Ashes is fast approaching and there are a number of Australians honing their skills in the English County Championship in preparation.

Australians playing cricket in the English summer is nothing new, but it is always a lot more significant when the Test side is about to play an Ashes series there. 

Getting used to and comfortable with English conditions is huge ahead of the Ashes and we can get a good indication of how some players will perform when the Ashes series gets underway. 

Some of the players currently playing County Championship cricket are certain to start the Ashes, while some are hoping to impress the selectors ahead of the series. 

The Australian squad has already been named to face England. However it is only for the first two Tests and there is a chance changes will be made for the remaining three. 

Injuries could also strike ahead of the first two Tests. Australia are priced at 2.30 to win the Ashes series, with the action getting underway at Edgbaston on 16th June.

Steve Smith 

The star Australian batsman has joined County Championship Division 2 side Sussex for a three-game spell in an attempt to get him in good touch. 

However, things have started slowly for Smith, who has struggled for runs in his opening two innings. Smith made 30 runs on his debut against Worcester last week, but then made just three runs against Leicester in his next appearance. 

The batsman registered just three singles before being dismissed lbw. Smith now has just one more game to play for Sussex and could do with getting some morale-boosting runs on the board.

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Michael Neser 

The all-rounder has not been named in the Australian squad for the first two Ashes Tests, however he is giving the selectors plenty to think about. 

There has been a suggestion he has been called up into the Ashes ‘preparation’ squad and he is doing his chances of a call-up no harm at all as he continues to shine for Glamorgan. 

Neser scored 86 runs in the clash against Worcester and then followed that up by taking 4-40 with the ball in the first innings. 

He is bang in form and the performance comes after he took 7-32, including a hat-trick, in the game against Yorkshire last week. Neser also smashed 90 runs off 198 balls against Leicestershire at the end of April.

Marnus Labuschagne 

Labuschagne is of course in the Australian squad and will be in the side that takes to the field in Birmingham in the opener. 

Like Neser, Labuschagne is playing with Glamorgan and chipped in with a tidy 42 runs off 76 deliveries in the victory over Worcester. 

He then took a crucial wicket in Worcester’s second innings, and The Queenslander also caught the eye when bowling off-spin in the recent draw against Durham in Cardiff. 

He took career-best figures of 4-81 off 17.3 overs. However, with the bat in that game he scored just 17 and five runs, but any time facing the Dukes ball in English conditions has to be a good thing.

Marcus Harris 

Harris is a real contender to open the batting for Australia should they decide to axe David Warner at some point during the Ashes series. 

Warner will start for now but has Harris breathing down his neck and the player has impressed whilst playing for Gloucestershire. 

Harris has already scored one century for the county this season, when smacking 148 off 192 deliveries in the draw against Glamorgan. 

He also scored a patient 59 runs in the first innings of that game. The century was Harris’ seventh over a two-year period with Gloucestershire and he clearly enjoys the English conditions. 

Harris looks in good form and will be ready to step in should Warner’s poor Test form continue.

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